Pothole problems: New warning, plus an alley concern

(photo added 4:26 pm)
First, the warning: Just out of the WSB inbox from Terry:

There is a huge pothole on California Ave @ California Ln in the Northbound Lane. ( Across from Hamilton Viewpoint; map) It is very dangerous as it is on the bend in the road and hard to see from your car. The hole is approx 3 ft deep and 2 ft across and big enough to damage a car or kill a motorcyclist.

Terry reported it to police; we’ll check a bit later to see if it’s been blocked off or repaired – let us know if you see any activity sooner. (4:26 pm update – as a commenter wrote, it’s now blocked off – see photo above) After our recent report that the city was out fixing post-snowstorm potholes, we also received a note about a deeply pitted alley – and photos of the huge holes, which became lakes during this week’s rain:

That’s looking southbound in the alley “parallel to Delridge, headed from Trenton to Barton and Henderson” (map), as our anonymous tipster puts it, adding, “This entire alley was re-graded and gravel spread a couple of months ago (2 months, 3 tops) and within a week all the holes were back. … As you go down the alley they get bigger, and you can see that the last one is easily the size of a truck. Each of these large ones are a good foot deep. For size reference, the posts in the fence at the end of the alley are 5-6 feet apart.” They’ve reported these before but nothing’s been done. That led us to look up if SDOT has any specific info online about alleys; from this page, we learn:

SDOT fills potholes on paved alleys, but will only address the most urgent safety concerns on unpaved alleys, where maintenance is primarily the responsibility of the adjacent property owners.

Guess the operative question, then, is, what constitutes an “urgent safety concern,” if not a truck-size hole. We’ll ask.

15 Replies to "Pothole problems: New warning, plus an alley concern"

  • mellaw6565 January 10, 2009 (11:17 am)

    This is the alley I was talking about on a forum thread – I’ve complained to the city about it for a while – no action! Guess they need to wait for someone to drown before they do anything!

  • BB January 10, 2009 (11:27 am)

    What happened to the 48 hour pothole response? Maybe we all just think someone else is calling them in?

  • mellaw6565 January 10, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    No – that only applies to paved roads.

  • KSJ January 10, 2009 (12:25 pm)

    There are stop signs up now to protect people from driving into the pothole near Hamilton on CA Ave. The stopsigns are a weird solution, but it worked for me.

  • HA January 10, 2009 (4:26 pm)

    The original post says the pothole on California is 3ft deep. Is that a typo? Did they mean 3ft long? 3 feet deep would be like a trench! Yikes

  • WSB January 10, 2009 (4:32 pm)

    HA, I just added a photo I took about an hour ago. Pulled up right next to it and stopped (nobody close behind me) and hung the iPhone out the car window as close as I could get. I have no doubt it’s three feet deep. But it’s not trench width, see above. However, with that kind of hollowness, who knows how much else below the surface needs to be filled, so do take care in the area. It’s well-blocked-off right now but that means one lane at that spot north of Hamilton Viewpoint just before you head down California Way.

  • mike January 10, 2009 (6:35 pm)

    Regarding the alley, this is the norm for highland park. Our alley is in the same horrible(third world) shape as that picture. It’s the city’s property, I don’t see why the city can just ignore it because its not paved. Maybe the first part of the solution should be providing equal service to that of the rest of Seattle. I’m actually surprised it isn’t considered a health issue with the standing water.

  • Aim January 10, 2009 (7:42 pm)

    Mike: You’re right. And with all the new condo construction, many of the places along these alleys have NO front entrance. The alley has become the main street for many, many people, and should be maintained as such.

  • rbj January 10, 2009 (10:10 pm)

    Geez, it’s like we live in baghdad…

  • J. Henry January 11, 2009 (12:44 pm)

    So who do we contact to have an assessment made as to whether an alley has “urgent safety concerns” or not?

    I’ve got one in highland park that is close to being deadly.

  • P January 11, 2009 (3:20 pm)

    I am beginning to wonder about this city…are the lights (the ones that are not burned out) on at city hall and nobody is there????

  • Michael January 11, 2009 (5:01 pm)

    WSB, you missed the operative words: “maintenance is primarily the responsibility of the adjacent property owners.”
    And so did everyone else, apparently.

  • d January 11, 2009 (5:30 pm)

    So, note what appears to be a sloped enbankment to the left. What if it drains down the slope on to the alley? Filling the holes or grading would be pointless, if that is the case. So, who owns that sloped bank? But, also, who owns that section of alley?

    On my block, the lots on my side of the street own the property which includes the “alley” and about three feet beyond it. So, we property owners are responsible for our own sections of the alley – which the city has an easement to for waste/recycling vehicles. Is that an exception to alley ownership? I am only guessing that it is. What kind of responsiblity would the city have in the case of neighbors’ alley where the weekly excursion of a couple of Garbage trucks across it contribute significant wear and tear. Some, none? I’ve no idea.

    So, who owns that alley? If it is the City, as some people are assuming, would the City ever cite the sloped embankment owner because of some kind of drainage code violation? Is that property less valuable to the city and so needs no enforcement of any possible code violation, if they EVEN exist?

    Just curious.

  • mike January 11, 2009 (10:23 pm)

    I’ve checked with king county gis we do not own the alley in my case. I wish we did because I’d be using it for parking. What kind of lame brain policy is it to expect 20+ property owners including landlords to ALL get together and maintain a common piece of property? I thought that was the point of government, or housing associations.

  • d January 12, 2009 (6:31 pm)

    mike –

    it’s doable. Just have to start talking with everyone and get organized making a list of names with addresses. The block I live on did it a couple of years ago to discuss the alley potholes. It was turned into a great barbeque with a fair amount of fun. NOt everyone showed, but the more positive, responsible folks did show and were willing to assume the burden others weren’t. I was surprised that folks were willing to chip in money to rid of the darn potholes and other problems, so maybe you will be surprised as well.

    Good luck

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